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Conceptually, rainscreen systems are an evolution of long tested techniques like shingles and lap siding, but with the addition of a drainage plane between the siding and an inner waterproof membrane.

Rainscreen System

Rainscreen Systems

An evolution in building envelope construction

Proper design and construction will result in a building that can adequately resist predictable exposure to rain and wind without requiring an unreasonable level of maintenance. In the rainy parts of the Pacific Northwest, this entails that buildings must withstand long periods of rain, as well as rain driven by high winds, and they must be economical to remain weather resistant using available manpower and equipment. In this climate, building defects are a foreseeable consequence of material, design, construction, and maintenance failures.
In this climate, drainage systems like shingles and rainscreen are more reliable claddings than barrier systems that rely upon sealant joint maintenance to preserve their integrity. Over the past decade, building envelope construction has rapidly evolved toward the widespread use of rainscreen systems in mid-rise residential construction. Conceptually, rainscreen systems are an evolution of long tested techniques like shingles and lap siding, but with the addition of a drainage plane between the siding and an inner waterproof membrane.

Traditional building methods have evolved slowly over many centuries in response to the strengths and weaknesses of available materials. During the past hundred years, building techniques have evolved with increasing rapidity in response to the creation of new technology, development of new materials, changes to model building codes, and higher expectations for building comfort and performance.

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Featured Expert

William E. J. Martin, AIA, NCARB

Will can explain the practical applications of established codes and standards in cases involving unguarded edges and openings; building component and maintenance failures including stairs, balconies, walking surfaces, doorways, and egress; worker training; and jobsite and industrial housekeeping. As a registered architect with experience as a licensed contractor, Will understands and can communicate the proper construction and maintenance of schools, industrial and institutional facilities, single and multi-family housing, retail and restaurants, and site improvements. His expertise includes CPM schedules, estimates, specifications, and a wide variety of building materials and techniques in all phases of the construction process, starting with initial design and continuing through demolition, sitework, structural elements, envelope detailing, and interior finishes.